Khan, Fury, Lewis, Joshua, Haye: Who is Britain's greatest ever boxer?

Khan, Fury, Lewis, Joshua, Haye: Who is Britain's greatest ever boxer?

As Amir Khan announces his retirement after a stellar 17-year career, boxing fans everywhere are reminded of the rapidly changing times, as fighters come and go leaving only their legacy behind them.

Offering a combination of skill, fearlessness and character, British boxers are constantly dominating headlines and fight cards to this day, and it has been that way since long before the turn of the century.

But how do the current greats, and even those newly departed, compare with the pugilists of yesterday?

Here’s a look at the top 10 pound for pound fighters of the past 30 years, as decided by SunSport.

11: Amir Khan, 34-6

Having won an Olympic silver medal by the age of 17, and named a world champion by 22, a defeat to Kell Brook would not have been the way Amir Khan was expected to finish his career all those years ago, when he was among the biggest names in boxing. With the announcement of his retirement, it is a great shame that Khan will never get the opportunity to break into the top 10, and we are left wondering if perhaps he could have moved up this list had his proposed fights with Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather come to fruition.

10: Anthony Joshua, 24-2

Anthony Joshua just managed to clinch a place in the top 10 and is one of only two current fighters to make the list. AJ had a quick rise to fame in boxing, winning Olympic gold in 2012, still fresh to the sport. After a couple of notable defeats, most recently to Oleksandr Usyk, Joshua’s rise up the rankings has been stalled. A win over Usyk in the proposed rematch this summer, however, could see him get the wheels turning again.

9: Nigel Benn, 42-5-1

Despite Benn’s shortcomings when it came to skill, his fierce desire to win between the ropes was almost unmatched, and saw him take the WBO title in 1990, and dominate Iran Barkley for his first title defence.

8: Duke McKenzie, 39-7

Although much of McKenzie’s success predates this list into the late 80s, his titles in the early 90s are enough to seal a top 10 finish. Perhaps he might even have found himself higher had it not been for the fact he competed in the less appealing fly, bantam and super-bantam weight divisions.

7: Prince Naseem Hamed, 36-1

Prince Naseem Hamed
Naseem Hamed celebrates defeating Tom Johnson of the United States to retain his World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight title and winning the International Boxing Federation (IBF) featherweight title on 8 February 1997 at the London Arena, London, United Kingdom. Visions of Sport. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Allsport/Getty Images)

Despite a short and problematic career, The Prince’s talents and achievements in the ring led him to multiple titles. But his ego and overconfidence led him to his first and only career loss in 2001, and to a poor reception by fans upon his return to the sport.

6: Chris Eubank Sr, 45-5-2

Eubank’s status as a ruthless fighter and gentleman is well appreciated by all, and had it not been for the tragic incident which caused his long-time nemesis Michael Watson to suffer life-changing injuries, perhaps we would have seen him higher up the list. The injury no doubt took a toll on the careers of both fighters. Eubank was never the same, and for the latter part of his career was simply unable to match his former self.

5: Ricky Hatton, 45-3

While Hatton appears only at five, there is no doubt that he is the single most loved fighter in British boxing history. After peaking in 2005, taking three titles from Kosta Tszyu, Hatton’s downfall came two year later when he was stopped by the usual suspect Floyd Mayweather.

Ricky Hatton
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – APRIL 27: Ultimate Boxxer Ambassador, Ricky Hatton, is introduced to the crowd wearing the gold gown which will be presented to the winner of the Ultimate Boxxer tournament at Manchester Arena on April 27, 2018 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

4: David Haye, 28-4

Though he may never have been able to overcome Tony Bellew, this still cannot take away from the spectacular career of David Haye. After becoming unified, lineal and Ring cruiserweight champion, he took the leap to heavyweight where he overcame the seven-foot giant Nikolai Valuev in one of the biggest underdog victories of all time.

3: Tyson Fury, 31-0-1

The ups of Fury’s career have been tremendous – the victories over Wladimir Klitschko, Dillian Whyte and the double over Deontay Wilder, but his lows make them even more significant, having taken a three-year break from boxing before returning to draw with Wilder the first time they met. However, Fury’s drug ban all those years ago does leave a stain on an otherwise near spotless career.  

2: Lennox Lewis, 42-2-1

Despite the shock defeats and controversial draw on his record, the career had by Lennox Lewis is hard to top. Lewis claimed defeats against numerous boxing legends such as Vitali Klitschko, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson, while also being the last undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Lennox Lewis
Lennox Lewis

1: Joe Calzaghe, 46-0

Landing at number one on the list, the Welsh Dragon. Calzaghe had it all – a resume of opponents consisting of Eubank, Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins, and an undefeated record to show for it all. Perhaps the most skilled fighter in British history, fans are still left wanting more a decade on from his retirement.

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